Washington (AP) - The State Department has requested extension of a plan that promised $1.1 billion to help fight drug cartel violence in Mexico, which is undergoing one of the bloodiest months in recent history.
In a report submitted to Congress this week, department officials ask that the Merida Initiative be extended past 2012. The report calls for the strengthening of public institutions, support for local and state governments and a renewed effort to fight drug, weapon and money trafficking in the U.S., according to a copy of the document obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton already has requested $292 million in anti-drug aid for Mexico for 2011.
Anthony Placido, the Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence chief, said last month that he worries Mexico's next president will not continue the unrelenting war on drugs that President Felipe Calderon launched when he took office in late 2006. That war has claimed nearly 23,000 lives.
Presidential elections are scheduled for 2012.
The Merida Initiative was created by former President George W. Bush in 2007. While the U.S. pledged $1.1 billion in aid, an AP investigation showed only $161 million of that money has been spent so far.
The State Department has requested extension of a plan that promised $1.1 billion to help fight drug cartel violence in Mexico, which is undergoing one of the bloodiest months in recent history.